Hello , I am an ex Scientologist , this blog is primarily about that but I may address other topics as the mood hits me to . I was in Scientology for 25 years and spent about 10,000 hours using the indoctrination and thought reform method "study tech " . I also spent time on staff and met hundreds of Scientologists and did hundreds of the cult practices . Many were the "ethics cycles and OW writeups " that really are an attempt to suppress or remove a person's identity and replace it with a mental pseudo clone of Ron Hubbard . To make a fanatical slave for the cult .

I looked outside the cult for answers in about January 2014 and left the cult in about March of 2014 . While in about 99% of members have no idea of the truth .

We are told we are in a mental therapy or spiritual enhancement or religion or science for helping people unlock potential . Or any of several other fronts that all pretend kind and humanitarian goals .

The truth is Scientology is a terrorist mind control cult and this blog is my attempt to understand and expose that . And try to state as clearly as possible the tools that I have found helpful in dealing with this .

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Alternatives To Scientology 2 Subliminal 1

The first book I have chosen to cover in the Alternatives To Scientology series is Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow. It's a book of moderate difficulty in my opinion that is a great alternative to Scientology to start with.

It addresses the reality of the unconscious mind and for ex Scientologists is a terrific contrast to Hubbard's fraudulent claims.

I think people should have a minimal amount of education on the mind and decide if they want to find out more for themselves. I have started with Subliminal because it is not a very difficult book and has an excellent cross section of assorted ideas from neuroscience, social psychology and psychology to consider and see a bit of what alternatives to Scientology have to offer. They are also subjects that have far, far better scientific research and evidence than Scientology and can contrast scientific research against the pseudoscience of Hubbard and Scientology. They are worlds apart.

I hope that ex Scientologists and anyone who is interested in understanding people will find this useful.

In the prologue Mlodinow wrote "Carl Jung wrote, "There are certain events of which we have not consciously taken note; they have remained, so to speak, below the threshold of consciousness. They have happened, but they have been absorbed subliminally." The Latin root of the word "subliminal" translates to "below threshold." Psychologists employ the term to mean below the threshold of consciousness. This book is about subliminal effects in that broad sense--about the the processes of the unconscious mind and how they influence us. End quote.

In Subliminal advances in neuroscience including fMRI scans and studies using them are highlighted. The fMRI scans offer scientists the opportunity to map the brain in far better detail than ever before and to see which regions of the brain and nervous system are active in different circumstances and during different activities. Combining this with the vast wealth of information accumulated through experiments in social psychology and advances such as tests for implicit bias has created a far, far better base of scientific evidence to consult for the purpose of understanding human thought, emotions and behavior.

I have dealt with Scientologists starting with Hubbard himself that tried to discredit and reject scientific studies of the mind. I also have dealt with numerous independent Scientologists and even several passionate ex Scientologists that continue to follow Hubbard's ideas and won't even examine the evidence that the understanding of the mind has tremendously progressed and is a legitimate science that has been well established. It's not perfect and doesn't have perfect answers or absolutely true solutions but it is worth knowing.

Mlodinow wrote, "Research suggests that when it comes to understanding our feelings, we humans have an odd mix of low ability and high confidence."(page 19)

As an example of behavior motivated by unexpected reasons he presented a study of three U.S. states and the last names of people that married each other. It demonstrated that if one was named Smith or Brown or Jones they were significantly more likely to marry someone else with the same last name. We are unlikely to grow up thinking I want to marry someone with my own name, but it seems that we chose to do just that more than random chance would create.

Mlodinow went on, "Most of us are satisfied with our theories about ourselves and accept them with confidence, but we rarely see those theories tested."

Now good science has shown we are good at guessing our motives and being certain we understand them  and bad at getting those guesses correct. A terrible combination.

As another example he described a study in which people are given either good popcorn upon entering a movie theater or intentionally bad (as in soggy, stale and terrible) for answering a few questions along with a free drink. They are given alternately a big popcorn or a huge popcorn, both are too large to finish in one sitting, and they found the size of the popcorn determined how much was eaten as much as whether it was good or terrible.  (Page 20)

He sited other studies that show doubling the size of the container of snack food increases consumption by 30 to 45 percent. (Page 20)

One of the most important points Mlodinow makes is "While we sometimes acknowledge that such factors can influence other people we usually believe---wrongly--that they cannot affect us." (Page 20)

He was referring to what advertisers call "environmental factors", such as package design, package or portion size, and menu descriptions.

As examples he provided, "Studies show that flowery modifiers not only tempt people to order the lyrically described foods but also lead them to rate those foods as tasting better than the identical foods given only a generic listing." (Page 21)

He went on to describe a study that found if people were given a recipe for preparing food and it was presented in a difficult to read font they described the preparation as more difficult. (Page 21)

This was reflected in a lower willingness to prepare the difficult to read but identical recipe. It was repeated with an exercise routine written as one page of easy to read or difficult to read text and the same result occurred. People were more certain the difficult to read font described a difficult exercise and less willing to do it.

Mlodinow wrote, "Psychologists call this the "fluency effect." If the form of the information is difficult to assimilate, that affects our judgments about the substance of that information." (Page 22)

It's not likely that we factor in the difficulty in receiving a communication as an influence on our perception of the communication.

Mlodinow described how an economics professor from Caltech named Antonio Rangel has done experiments demonstrating how people aren't the pure rational actors we usually assume ourselves to be.

Rangel found people will pay far more (40 to 61 percent more) if they have the item in front of them rather than on a computer. He found they were willing to pay the computer level if the item was behind plexiglass.

I can get chips from a vending machine for ninety cents or off a shelf at the convenience store for a dollar sixty nine. Hmm.

He went on to describe studies that found people rate detergent as superior if it was in a box with blue and yellow, instead of blue or yellow, despite the detergents being identical in each box.

He described how in England four German wines and four French wines were placed on shelves with either German or French music piped in. On the days German music was played over seventy percent of the wine purchased was German and on the days French music was played over seventy percent of the wine purchased was French.

Of course when asked if the music was a factor in their decision to purchase the wine only one customer in seven said yes.

Rangel went on to do a study of wine tasting. He had people sample and rate wines only knowing prices. One was labeled ninety dollars a bottle and the other ten dollars. They had fMRI scans done while tasting the wines and had more activity in certain regions of their brains. Of course they rated the more expensive wine as better tasting. Of course the wines were identical. Uhm hmmm.

Our brains create through experience and anticipation. He described how in the cola wars there is the "Pepsi paradox" - people routinely rate Pepsi as better tasting when placed in a blind taste test against Coke. But rate Coke as better tasting when they know what they are comparing.

Maybe all those commercials with people singing about love and friendly polar bears have created an association with happiness and Coke.

To go even further the VMPC aka ventromedial prefrontal cortex (a portion of the brain associated with "warm, fuzzy feelings such as those we experience when we contemplate a familiar brand-name product." to quote Mlodinow. (Page 25) was studied in 2007 and researchers found people with significant damage there preferred Pepsi in blind tests and when they knew which soda they were drinking. Hmm.

We usually don't say "I prefer this product because I have numerous psychological factors that predispose me to an array of biases" but probably should.

Mlodinow described how the ease of reading and pronouncing the names of new stocks affects how well they initially sell and that studies have shown people leave bigger tips for waitresses on sunny days than rainy days and another study found people gave better tips in an Atlantic city casino for food brought to their rooms if it was sunny.

I get paid the same, rain or shine, but many people that rely on tips really do better with a sunny day.

A study was done of New York city stock exchange trades and a finance professor analyzed data from 1927 to 1990. He concluded sunny days and rainy days influenced stock prices.

To support this we have another study by a pair of researchers that looked at stock markets in twenty six countries from 1982 through 1997. They confirmed the first study. (Page 28)

Mlodinow goes on, "We perceive, we remember our experiences, we make judgments, we act--and in all of these endeavors we are influenced by factors we aren't aware of." (Page 29)

For Scientologists and ex Scientologists I can assure you a lot more evidence has been presented that supports this basic idea and the ideas Hubbard had on this are not scientific, in agreement with the vast preponderance of evidence available or remotely true.

I know Hubbard expressed hidden influence as having tremendous power, which on the surface seems to be exactly what I am presenting, but the details of what, where, when and how influence exists and Hubbard's ideas are entirely different and how these ideas were arrived at almost couldn't be more different.

And I hope that difference is worth exploring and the methods and evidence to support that difference are worth very serious and careful examination. To me it's all the difference in the world.

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